Blown To Bits

Bill Would Require Logs of Internet Use

Friday, February 20th, 2009 by Harry Lewis

Oncer again, in the name of protecting America’s children from exploitation, Congress is considering a massive increase in data collection about the activities of you, me, and everyone else. Specifically, the SAFETY Act (click for the full text) would require that

A provider of an electronic communication service or remote computing service shall retain for a period of at least two years all records or other information pertaining to the identity of a user of a temporarily assigned network address the service assigns to that user.

That means not just your Internet Service Provider at home, but Starbucks. And the beneficiaries would be not just police looking for pedophiles, but the recording industry looking for people who downloaded music in an airport lounge.

As we have said before (here and here, for example), the Internet threats to child safety have been mischaracterized and exaggerated, and spending resources on programs like this draws resources away from places where they are badly needed, helping troubled children from troubled families. Bills like this are transparent attempts to exploit the child safety issue to ramp up government data collection about innocent citizens, data that will be repurposed and abused once it has been collected. It’s the kind of Big-Brother surveillance proposed in the UK, as we discussed last fall.

Stop this madness. There is zero evidence that this is a sensible solution to the problem the bill claims to be aimed at, and it is an unconscionable invasion of our rights to privacy.

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